“Not all of us can do great things. But each of us can collectively do small things to make a big difference.”
The invitation was straight-forward enough: “Be part of the solution to pollution! A creek runs through our neighborhoods, please help us take care of this precious resource. Join your neighbors, get some exercise, and give back to the environment.”
It sounded compelling enough. It would mean giving up my early morning yoga class, but performing an act of selfless service and giving back to the community seemed worth it.
I met up with Senator Beall (D) and a group of other volunteers at a registration booth at Campbell Park. I checked in, signed a waiver of form, and was issued a yellow volunteer vest, green trash bag, gloves and a litter pickup device with an extended arm by volunteer staff members. Coffee, water, snacks and sunscreen/lip balm was provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.
We took a group photo and I had the opportunity for a photo op with Senator Beall who represents the 15th Senate district that includes the South Bay and Silicon Valley. He introduced us to some local political aides, his press secretary, Rodney Foo, and the Campbell Chief of Police, David Carmichael. He told us he believed in the internship programs. He began his political career as an intern and youth commissioner for Norm Mineta, who was mayor of San Jose at the time, and later went on to become the US Secretary of Transportation under George W. Bush.
I didn’t know volunteering to pick up trash from the creek trails could be so much fun. I got the chance to meet like-minded people. I walked along side the rustic, scenic trails from Campbell Park to Los Gatos. A few of the runners and walkers on the trail stopped to thank me for helping to clean up the environment and wanted to know how they could get involved. It gave me a real sense of community. In fact, everyone walked away from the experience feeling good about how they spent their morning. It was especially nice to see parents take their young children to participate. About an hour and half hours and seven miles later, I returned back to Campbell Park, adding my filled trash bag to the pile. I then thanked Senator Beall for the chance to serve and for his leadership in organizing this Annual Creek Cleanup event. After saying goodbye, he had his staff give us a signed Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate for our service.
Poscript: Thanks to my civic minded friend Elizabeth Sharkey, a teacher at Fisher Elementary & Middle School who asked me to sign a petition for SB 492 sponsored by Senator Beall that: Enables the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to acquire 6,500 acres in the Upper Guadalupe, Los Gatos Creek, and Saratoga Watersheds to protect ecological sensitive lands, safeguard 1,000 acres for redwood forest from logging, and link several trail systems to allow the public access to spectacular scenery from Santa Clara County to the sea.